Chief Coroner publishes new guidance following Mary Hassell JR

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The Chief Coroner has issued guidance following the judgment of the Divisional Court in R (Adath Yisroel Burial Society) v Senior Coroner for Inner North London [2018] EWHC 969 (Admin) (“the AYBS Case”). The new Guidance No.28 can be found here.

The successful judicial review of the Coroner for Inner North London’s controversial ‘cab rank’ policy which led to this new guidance is discussed by this author on the Blog here.

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Coroner defeated over controversial ‘cab-rank’ burial policy

Shaheen Rahman QC is a barrister at One Crown Office Row

R ((1) Adath Yisroel Buriel Society (2) Ita Cymerman) v HM Senior Coroner For Inner North London (Defendant) & Chief Coroner of England & Wales (Interested Party)  [2018] EWHC 969 (Admin)

Adath Yisroel.jpgThe Divisional Court has ruled that the Senior Coroner for Inner North London acted unlawfully in adopting a policy that resulted in Jewish and Muslim families facing delays in the burials of family members, contrary to their religious beliefs.  The policy was held to amount to an unlawful fetter upon her discretion, and also to be irrational, to breach Articles 9 and 14 of the ECHR and to amount to indirect discrimination contrary to the Equality Act 2010 (“EQA”).

The policy at the heart of this highly publicised battle between the coroner and faith groups has drawn criticism from across the political spectrum.  It is to the effect that

No death will be prioritised in any way over any other because of the religion of the deceased or family, either by the coroner’s officer’s or coroners.

It has resulted in a blanket refusal of requests for expedition in circumstances where a religion stipulates that burial must take place within a short period of deathSuch requests have arisen in cases where the family is waiting for the coroner to decide whether a post mortem examination is required.

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High Court refuses to condemn US drone strikes

military-drone-spy-008R (Khan) v Secretary Of State For Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs [2012] EWHC 3728 (Admin) (21 December 2012) – Read judgment

In this unsuccessful application for permission to apply for judicial review, the Claimant sought to challenge the Defendant’s reported policy of permitting GCHQ employees to pass intelligence to the US for the purposes of drone strikes in Pakistan.  The Claimant’s father was killed during such an attack in March 2011.

The Claimant alleged that by assisting US agents with drone strikes, GCHQ employees were at risk of becoming secondary parties to murder under the criminal law of England and Wales and of conduct ancillary to war crimes or crimes against humanity contrary to international law.  The Claimant sought declaratory relief to that effect and also sought a declaration that the Defendant should publish a policy addressing the circumstances in which such intelligence could be lawfully disseminated. [paragraph 6]

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Yes, come to the library! Browse and borrow, and help make sure it’ll still be here tomorrow…

“Yes, come to the library! Browse and borrow, and help make sure it’ll still be here tomorrow…” Thus concludes “Library poem”, penned by Children’s Laureate and Gruffalo creator Julia Donaldson, the latest high profile recruit to the campaign against planned library closures.

There have been a number of developments since we last blogged on this issue:

First, in R(Bailey And Others) V Brent London Borough Council & All Souls College (Interested Party)  & Ehrc (Intervener) [2011] Ewca Civ 1586, The appellants failed to overturn the dismissal of their application for judicial review of a local authority’s decision to close half its public libraries.  See previous post here. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal on every ground, noting that the local authority’s decision to reduce its expenditure on public services was primarily one for it to make as a democratically elected body.  Given the scale of the spending reductions required the decision was not unlawful.

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Successful challenge to library closures: lip service not enough for equality duties

R (Green and others) v GLOUCESTERSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL & SOMERSET COUNTY COUNCIL [2011] EWHC 2687 (Admin) – Read judgment

In the administrative court, the decisions of two local authorities to withdraw funding for library services were held to be unlawful. 

The court held that the withdrawal of a local library might indirectly discriminate against people with physical disabilities, women and the elderly.  Both councils had purported to carry out equality impact assessments but the mere fact that such an assessment had been conducted did not demonstrate that due regard had been given to the public sector equality duty.

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More cuts: Library closure challenge fails

Updated | Bailey & Others v London Borough of Brent Council [2011] EWHC 2572 (Admin) – Read judgment

Every Wednesday my daughter looks forward to the arrival of the mobile library at her nursery.  Two by two the children go into the little world of books and emerge holding a new story they have chosen for themselves. 

Not for long.  Despite the well-documented advantages of exposing children to the joys of reading at an early age – before the attractions of TV, video games and looting shops take hold – library services across the land are being targeted for cuts.

The duty to provide library services for children was one of the key arguments advanced by campaigners in Brent challenging the council’s decision to close 6 of its 12 libraries.  Reliance was placed upon section 7 of the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964.  This requires local authorities to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service.

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Council disregards new equality duties in terminating free legal services

Rahman, R (on the application of Birmingham City Council) [2011] EWHC 944 (Admin) (31st March 2011) – read judgment

The Prime Minister recently called upon immigrant communities to integrate more fully in British Society, criticising in particular those who fail to learn English.

But three longstanding residents of Birmingham who communicate poorly in English and rely upon legal entitlement advice centres to provide services in their mother tongue, have successfully argued that the Defendant Council unlawfully failed to discharge its Public Sector Equality Duty in ceasing to fund the centres. Two further Claimants, with disabilities, also succeeded in their challenge to the Council’s decision to cease funding another centre that was providing free assistance in welfare benefit appeals.

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